Back to: Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
In this article, we will discuss The Knight’s Tale Summary in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.
Table of Contents
After marrying Hippolyta, the queen of Scythia, and conquering the kingdom of Amazons, Theseus, the prince, comes back to Athens with his sister, Emelye, to find out the Creon, the lord of the town, has refused to bury or burn the dead bodies of the soldiers.
Seeing women crying in such situation over their husbands’ bodies, Theseus swears vengeance and kills Creon. While disposing of the dead bodies, two of them, belonging to Arcite and Palamon, were found alive.
Theseus ordered them to be imprisoned for life and passed their time in prison until one day when they saw Emelye. Both of the falls in love with her and began to fight with each other.
On the request of his childhood friend and a prince who already knows Arcite and Palamon, Theseus frees Arcite on the condition that he remain in exile forever.
A question is posed in the tale when Palamon envies Arcite for he thinks Arcite has the chance to raise an army to conquer Theseus and Arcite laments his inability to go near Emelye: who has it worse?
Arcite disguises himself to go to Athens when, one day, after two years, he sees god Mercury in his dream telling him to do so.
Arcite joins Theseus’ court as Emelye’s steward under the name of Philostratus. He’s so loved that he is made squire of the chamber by Theseus. Palamon, on the other hand, escapes the prison after seven days with the aim of coming back under a disguise.
On the same morning, Arcite goes horse riding and cries outside for his love for Emelye. Palamon overhears him and discloses his real identity. Both of them to meet the same place tomorrow to fight till death over Emelye.
Next morning when they’re fighting they’re stopped by Theseus who has come for a walk with Hippolyta and Emelye. Palamon reveals the identity of Arcite and also tells that both of them love Emelye.
Theseus orders them to be killed but the two ladies seeing how much they love Emelye get filled with compassion and request Theseus to forgive them. Theseus decides that they fight each other having hundred soldiers on each side with them and that whoever wins will marry Emelye.
Before the night of the battle, Palamon prays to Venus, the goddess of love, to let Arcite kill him if he’s the one to marry Emelye. Emelye prays to Diana for the friendship between both friends for she doesn’t want any blood to shed because of her and if she has to marry let her marry the who desire her the most. Arcite prays to mars for the victory in the battle.
Saturn interferes when Venus and Mars begin to fight against each other saying that Palamon would have his lady but Mars would help Arcite.
On the day of the battle, Palamon brings Lycurgus, the king of Thrace, to fight with him, while Arcite brings Emetreus, the king of India.
In the battle, Palamon is seized by Emetreus and he pierced his sword in him. Theseus declares the victory of Arcite. Seeing this Venus gets angry but Saturn assure her, like Mars, she would receive her share as well.
After being victorious, Arcite is met by an Earthquake sent by Pluto, his horse gets frightened by the earthquake and falls, throwing Arcite off wounded to death. Arcite tells Emelye, at the end of his life, that Palamon is the most suitable husband for him.
In the end, Palamon marries Emelye, and knight’s tale ends on such a happy note.